Advice For Women: "Breaking Into the InfoSec Business"

Copy-of-WITI-2017_Smothers_Rosa_01KnowBe4’s Senior Vice President of Cyber Operations Rosa Smothers was recently interviewed on the CyberWire’s Daily Podcast, where she discussed her background working for the CIA and offered advice for women in the cybersecurity industry. Smothers explained that inspiring interest and providing educational opportunities, especially for children, is one of the factors that will increase diversity in the sector.

“I think the challenge as I see it, is also really stimulating the interest in technology when they're young,” she said. “I was so gratified when I read recently that the Girl Scouts are now awarding STEM badges. And I think it's things like that that are going to increase the role of women in the cyber workplace because, you know, they can't hire us if we're not there and we're not qualified. So I'm hoping as time goes by, our numbers will increase, and the hiring pool will thus increase.”

For women currently in the field, Smothers said that focusing on doing the job well should be their core concern, and respect will come with time.

“I've had a number of conversations with women that – they struggle with that, you know, I want to be liked, and I want to be respected,” she said. “And I said, well, if you're doing your job well, that respect will come. Don't worry about those things. These will all come in due course. You know, focus on your technical skills.”

Smothers continued, saying that encouragement and guidance play an important role in bringing about this change.

“So I think in encouraging one another to be strong, to stand up, to not be quite so docile,” she explained. “A lot of women tend to say, you know, ‘I was just wondering.’ No, you have a question. You know, it's a different way of making the same statement, but they sound very different to those who hear it....So, even those sort of little coaching moments, I think, are hugely significant. So I, you know, I think any community-building opportunity, especially for women in the technical field, should always be taken full advantage of.”

When asked about the importance of events focused on creating connections between women in the cybersecurity industry, Smothers said that community building is key to increasing solidarity and openness between women in the industry.

“Any time you can build community and consensus, it's an important thing,” Smothers said. “I mean, we're social animals. And any time we can come together and share similar experiences or challenges and be frank and open and honest - and I think sometimes it's also providing a blunt series of feedback regarding - sometimes we're not as forthcoming or as forthright, I should say, as forthright in the workplace as we should be.”

Rosa Smothers will be one of the speakers at the CyberWire’s upcoming Women in Cybersecurity Reception, which will be held at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. on October 24th. KnowBe4 is the presenting sponsor of this year’s event.

The CyberWire has the story:

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